Education from the Cutting Edge
Article by Diane Shawe
Things are happening very quickly out there. It is changing. Harvard, MIT, Cambridge and Oxford are doing it. Companies, both big and small, are doing it. Solopreneurs are doing it. And some teachers have been doing it … they just haven’t been making any money at it. It’s a trend that many in education saw coming 10 years ago. The “It” is on-line education — and it’s gone from being an interesting sideline to a major social and economic trend.
This trend’s going to be around a little longer than some online trends. Because there are some very solid factors underlying the shift to online education … and they’re only getting stronger. Online education is at a tipping point. And that’s brilliant news if you’re into education and have a mobile device and go to www.shortcourses.expert . Let’s talk about why.
Online education is now a massive juggernaut; more than 8.1 million current college students took a Web-based course beginning September 2011. According to recent research in the US (published in the Boston Globe), nearly a third of students have taken one during their college careers.
You see the traditional model of get a degree and land a great job just isn’t working any more, at least in most professions. I’m still a huge fan of universities, but we have to face the fact that they’re quickly becoming a pricy luxury in the UK and other developing nations. Indeed even with a good degree many students are taking ‘McJobs’ to earn money and are frustrated by the lack of real opportunities. I know many that are angry with unpaid internships.
Students are looking for other ways to learn what they need to learn — without the six-figure price tag. You see normal people live online now! Is your father on Facebook? Mine is. And the weirdest thing about it is … it’s nice. It lets me keep up with what he’s doing, and share the exploits of my charming hooligan daughter.
I first got online in 1991. I remember how long it took me to ‘get online’….those strange handshake noises….and the joy of slow connections. But the internet doesn’t belong to early adopters like me anymore. The internet, assisted by the smart phone and tablet is woven into our lives like it never has been. My father’s iPad is the new Silver Surfer must have accessory.
That means that normal people, not just web junkies, are willing to consider online activities that never would have occurred to them before. It means they look at online education and think, “Wow, I could do that.”
The world is changing faster than traditional education can evolve. As a former Headteacher, I know that the revolution is here. The (dial m for mobile) mLearning generation are about to inherit the earth.
Almost every aspect of our lives is changing. Making money, learning, socialising, family life and education. Certainly for education, we want it quicker (try just 4 weeks at The Academy of Vocational & Professional Training), we want it better and we want it to have some global ‘value’. All that change is coming faster than most people can handle. In the global economy with huge aspirations, we all need help with some aspect of the change that’s swirling around us.
Which means if you can master some element of the changing world, and stay on top of it, you can help customers do the same. Great businesses are built by solving tough problems. And mastering change is one of the toughest problems we all face … every day, and in every aspect of our lives.
Traditional education has a tough time with this. If you want to study ancient Greek, you should be set. (And more power to you, because I think that is cool.) But if you want to study technology, nutrition and fitness, marketing, communications, or any of the other myriad ways people make a living, you need the latest information. And the only way to do this is with the new Blended mLearning methodology.
You see, Online learners are … well, learning. None of this would matter if online education didn’t work as well as face-to-face learning. But it appears to actually work better. In a 2009 report based on 50 independent studies, the Department of Education found that students who studied in online learning environments performed modestly better than peers who were receiving face-to-face instruction.
Online learning allows students to go at the pace that’s right for them. When online education is well designed (and it really needs the thought process, the design and brilliant content), it gives plenty of opportunity to not only absorb the theories in the material, but to discuss it meaningfully and put it into practice. Put that with the best of interactive learning (Virtual Tutor Facilitators) and you have a winner!
Students can replay lectures if they need to. They can interact with other students online in ways that far surpass traditional classroom discussion. Even something as simple as being able to attend class when you’re at your most refreshed can make a huge difference. (I am pretty convinced that I learned exactly nothing from the early morning University lectures I attended). You don’t have to shuffle into a physical room with an instructor physically present to learn.
That we can take the very best education and make it widely available, instead of limiting it to a few hundred people at a time. That we can learn at our own pace, on our own time, when and where it’s convenient for us.
Top Universities will continue to do a brilliant job teaching law and microbiology. But you may very well be able to do an even more brilliant job teaching small business tax planning or sports nutrition. Or advanced NLP, Business start up, Hair extensions. Or how to get a novel published. Or take my courses in Stand up Comedy! All in 4 weeks. And all globally accredited.
Diane Shawe the CEO is very passionate about how we can extend and touch the lives of anyone wanting to learn through online training! she says that the way online games have captured the attention of the young, is what she would like Academy of vocational and professional training to do with online mlearning sustainable education.
For me the mLearning revolution is here. Online and now.
Catch you there
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